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Georgetown's Clark back at Verizon Center


Georgetown's Clark back at Verizon Center

The Verizon Center setting, a rather familiar one for Georgetown guard Jason Clark. His primary sparring partner - Syracuse's Scoop Jardine - also a blast from the recent past.
Yet just about everything else on Tuesday afternoon reminded the NBA hopeful how times are a changing. Like his fellow graduation seniors, Clark hitting the streets or in this case, the hardwood looking for a job.The combo guard with go-go gadget arms and a perimeter touch joined five other draft prospects including Kentucky's Darius Miller and Florida State's Bernard James on the Wizards practice court for a pre-draft workout. Its kind of weird coming in this arena and not having on a Georgetown jersey, Clark said. Its weird, but Im willing to work hard to try to play here again.Including the Wizards a team in need of additional backcourt depth - Clark has worked out for three teams including the Heat and Spurs. More interested squads to come, starting with the Bulls on Friday, heading up to the June 28 draft.

These workouts carry weight as teams have the opportunity to size up a prospects skills, personality and well, size. Unlike his invited teammates Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson, Clark did not have a similar opportunity at last week's cattle call also known as the NBA combine.Im not going to say its all politics, Clark said. But theres a lot of things that go into getting invited to the combine. Im not worried about that I didnt get into the combine. Im just going to work my tail off to try to get drafted.The 6-foot-2 Clark and fellow senior Jardine were the only two small guards on hand for this workout session. They needed no introductions.We played against each other for four years, Jardine said. Today was just like I was on the road playing against Georgetown on their own court, hitting big shots and talking to their fans.Clark said, We were just talking about the games that we played against each other, how exciting they were. He always brags about they beat us more.Indeed Georgetown lost 5 of 8 games to its biggest rival over the past four years, with two games going to overtime, including last seasons heart-breaker in Syracuse. That was then. A new day in Clark playing career has dawned. The senior leader scored topped the Hoyas in scoring last season, but he's prepared for a different role on the next level."Playing defense, making hustle plays, knocking down open shots. I know my role is not going to be coming in and score, I know that," Clark said. "Some guys don't know that, but I know my role is going to be come in and compete. There is nobody that can out work me."With the opportunity comes stress and pressure, but Clark is savoring every moment."This is a blessing. Even if I don't get drafted, don't make a team, not everybody gets a chance to do this, the Arlington native said.Just do not infer thatstatementmeanshe's just happyto try out for the NBA. Jason Clark believes he belongs."I know I can make somebody's team," Clark said. Notes...The Wizards confirmed Kansas power forward and D.C. native Thomas Robinsonwill workout for the team on Wednesday, along with forwards Al'Lonzo Coleman (Presbyterian) and Kevin Thompson (Morgan State)...James, a 27-year old center from Florida State, said he received workout pointers from former college teammate and Wizards forward Chris Singleton, The 6-foot-10 James isprojected into the middle of the second round according to the website Draft Express. The Wizards own two second-round picks,number 32 and 46overall...Duke's athletic forward Miles Plumlee and Iowa swingman Matt Gatens also worked out. Plumlee is also a projected second-round selectio

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Sashi Brown on his role, team culture and how he can sell the Wizards to free agents

Sashi Brown on his role, team culture and how he can sell the Wizards to free agents

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Wizards have bucked convention by hiring Sashi Brown as their chief operations and planning officer, as he comes from outside the basketball world. He has served as top executive but in the NFL, not in the NBA. 

Brown and Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis, though, believe there are plenty of skills that will translate. After all, there are many commonalities in running the front office of professional sports teams.

They are constructed similarly with executives, scouts, and medical staffs. And the same principles apply to contract negotiations and pitching free agents. 

Brown admits it will take some time for him to acclimate to working in a new league, but is confident his experience as a sports executive, in business and as a lawyer will help the Wizards right away.

"There is far more that will transfer than I think people would imagine," he told NBC Sports Washington. 

"When you have sat in that seat as a GM, the job is so big. These are now billion-dollar enterprises. We've got a lot of things that we want to accomplish and you really just can't have enough talent. That's what it feels like a lot of days. From technology to strategy to contract and negotiation and league initiatives, but also just operational support; things that we would like to get done day-to-day to be world-class."

What could take time is Brown's impact on basketball insight. He was known as a forward-thinking NFL executive when it came to analytics. But advanced stats and their utilization are very different in basketball.

Brown said during his introductory press conference on Monday that basketball decisions will ultimately be made by Tommy Sheppard, the team's new general manager. Brown's role will be making those decisions more comprehensive and informed by organizing and developing the team's resources. 

Between Brown and Sheppard, no one is working for the other. Their boss is Leonsis and they are expected to work in tandem.

"They can focus on the team and the players and winning titles," Brown said of Sheppard and those running the Go-Go, Mystics and District Gaming.

"We're going to be a team. Tommy talked about being a team of teams. Ted would like that as a vision from the top down."

Over time, there will surely be some pain points. Everyone has their own philosophies. There will be disagreements.

But disagreements can be productive. The Wizards feel they need new, outside voices and Brown's fresh perspective will be very valuable to resetting their direction and culture.

Brown knows what that process is like, having started from the bottom with the NFL's Cleveland Browns three years ago. He laid a foundation there as GM that has helped lead to a bright future for one of the NFL's most moribund teams.

Culture is a nebulous concept in sports. It is hard to define. The Wizards just know theirs needs an adjustment.

Brown, for one, believes good culture leads to winning and not the other way around.

"I think that if you're relying on winning to develop your culture you probably don't have a very good culture," he said. "It really has to be the driver for winning. That's what we're going to do. We've got guys that are experienced and passionate that will hold the entire organization accountable."

Brown, 43, has little basketball experience to draw from as he joins the Wizards. He played the sport as a kid growing up. His best claim-to-fame in basketball is that his grandfather coached at Kentucky State University.

"It's been in my family for years. It's in my blood," he said.

What Brown does have a firm grasp of is what professional teams need in order to win. One is a cohesive message when pitching a free agent on signing with them.

Brown will part of that process for the Wizards. He is Harvard-educated and charismatic, the type of person you would want on your side in the negotiating room. And he has a plan to make the Wizards a more attractive destination.

"I think [players] want a commitment. I think they want a chance to win championships. We've seen that in abundance over the last two or three offseasons. The league is transforming itself and continues to evolve. We want to be at the forefront of that," he said.

"Our facilities are top-notch and we'll do everything to keep them there. Our people, our doctors and our medical care for players is great. Our coaching is going to be top-notch and championship-caliber. We want to be comprehensive in terms of what we offer all of our athletes."

Brown is smart, engaging and smooth. It is easy to see why Leonsis is enamored with his potential. Now Brown just has to prove him right.


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Zion Williamson joins Rui Hachimura by signing with the Jordan brand

Zion Williamson joins Rui Hachimura by signing with the Jordan brand

 Rui Hachimura and Zion Williamson, two of the most high-profile NBA rookies from the 2019 NBA Draft class, have joined forces on a new team, Jordan Brand. 

The New Orleans Pelicans' new star and No. 1 overall draft pick announced Tuesday afternoon that he'll be signing with Jumpman on a multi-year deal; the details of the deal have yet to be revealed. 

This decision comes about a month after Hachimura became the first Japanese-born player to sign with the brand

Both players have entered the NBA with an incredible amount of fanfare and hype surrounding their transitions to the Association. Hachimura was the star attraction for 61 media members from 21 different outlets in Japan during the NBA Summer League, while Zion's American media presence, understandably, was also substantial.

When Hachimura signed in June it was a dream come true for him and his family. Williamson shared similar sentiments when outlining why he decided to join the Jordan Brand team:

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family," Williamson told Nike News. "Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

Since their thrilling faceoff in college, when Gonzaga edged an 89-87 victory over the Blue Devils thanks to Hachimura's 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks, the two talents have experienced a similar, yet unique, tip-off to their careers.

It's said that if you look good you play good, and it seems both Hachimura and Williamson have that first part figured out.